Slab Leak / PEX Reroute

tech0010June 2, 2011

Ok, here it goes. We found a slab leak under one of our bedrooms. The house is a 22 year old slab on grade. I paid a plumber for advanced leak detection, and then over $2k to jackhammer up a 4' by 4' area of the slab and replace a section of the line running to our front hose bib.

One week later there was water coming up around the new section of concrete. He shows me that there are more pinhole leaks in the line where it dives under the footing to get to the exterior wall. He cuts a 4" trench through the footing and sleeve new pipe up into the wall to the hose bib. We now have new copper from the mid-point of the room to the hose bib. This cost me over $1k.

It's a week later and I have water coming up again. The plumber told us he used "sil fos" solder and it is stronger than the copper, I must have more leaks in the pipe. He wants to reroute through the attic with hard copper, and charge me full price for it.

I feel like I'm getting screwed here, since I have paid almost $4k to have a leak fixed and I still have water coming through my floor. Now he wants me to pay him to abandon all of the work we just did, and go through the attic.

I went hammer fishing on my bathroom wet wall and found where the line goes under. I cut it with a tubing cutter and put a sharkbite end stop on it to give me some time. I'm thinking about rerouting with PEX and I have some questions.

1. When you take 3/4 pex up through the wall header is the normal practice not to use a 90, but just bend the minimum radius the MFG allows? I don't want unessacary fittings.

2. I want to add a ball valve to give me the ability to winterize the hose bib to keep freezing from being a problem. I will slope the pex in the attic towards the hose bib so it will drain. Do they have ball valve handle extensions so I can extend the handle into my bathroom cabinet, or do I need to use a box like a washing machine outlet to make the valve accessible?

3. Does cold pex "sweat" like copper in a hot attic?

4. I know pex needs to be secured at a minimum distance, if I run the horizontal pex through PVC water pipe to maintain the slope and avoid low spots for winterizing does work as "secured".

5. Does a horizontal penetration through a stud count as supporting and securing the PEX?

6. Is it ok to sharkbite on the rolled soft copper running down to the slab, or do I need to install a new sharkbite T in the hard copper? I currently have a sharkbite on the soft copper to cut the line off, but I didn't know if they are approved for this type of copper.

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Consider all the possibilities for new routes for the piping. The slab is a major obstacle. The first slab built houses in my area were by an inventive builder who used 6" PVC in the slab for supply piping chases with elbows coming to the surface of the slab. He used copper tubing at the time, but PEX would be easy to fish in those chases.
Going up or around is about your only choice. For cold water piping, is going around the perimeter of the house in a trench helpful at all?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 8:46PM
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